Olmec Celtiform Ax

Illustration

by Metropolitan Museum of Art
published on 16 April 2018

Jadeite celt, 10-4th century BCE, Mexico, Mesoamerica
Metropolitan Museum of Art

About 1000 BCE, celts-elongated, elliptical ground stone tools-would acquire meaning beyond their workaday function. When made of greenstones such as the hard, polishable jadeite, celts symbolized ears of maize. The profile image incised on the upper portion of this celt is that of the Olmec maize god, identifiable by the tall tripartite element emerging from the cleft in his headdress.

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